Penn Station, Please

December 16, 2008

Go on a little journey with me, will you?

Imagine you are really sick.  You’ve been in NYC for over 10 days which means all the bugs have gotten all over you and your immune system, while fighting valiantly, has finally succumbed to the invasion.  Since you are staying at someone else’s place, you consider it rude to stay and infest their home with your germs, so you change your flight to go home early.  Filled with every cold medicine you can get your hands on to get you through the day, and deciding to pamper yourself by not taking the subway, you hail a cab to take you to Penn Station.  This was me.

I got into the cab and say, “Penn Station, please”.  Now, one would think that a cabbie would know how to get to Penn Station, yes?  But as I’m sure you’ve already guessed, since I hailed this cab in Inwood, he indeed, was not so sure about the location of one of two of NYC’s busiest train stations.  After asking how to get to the West Side Highway (which is like asking where the nose on my face is), I barely had enough time to direct him to head South to Penn Station, not North to Upstate New York.  It was in that moment that I also realized that he did not speak English.  The Dominican Flag on the rear view mirror and the fact that I got in Inwood should’ve been my first clues.

After navigating him to the West Side Highway, I sat back and tried to relax in order to survive my long journey home.  He got off at the right exit and figured that he knew where he was since he was driving directly towards Penn Station.

We stopped at a light, and since we were in the right lane, I assumed he was going to turn right and drop me off at the station.  Um….yeah. That was the wrong assumption to make.  He hit the pedal and proceeded straight.  With alarm in my voice, I said, “Sir, that’s Penn Station! I need to get out!”  By that time it was too late and we had passed it.  He flailed his hands to indicate that he would go around the block.

Well, going around the block was not so easy due to all the one way streets and “No right turns” signs.  For 20 minutes we circled around trying to get back to Penn Station.  Since I was sick and was lugging a 50 pound suitcase, I didn’t really want to get out and walk back to the station.  He managed to get me to 33rd and 7th, about a block away when I said, “I’m getting out. I have a train to catch”.

So much for pampering myself and avoiding the “stress” of the subway.  I would’ve made it faster had I taken the subway.  I did make my train, but the trip wiped me out. I slept the whole way to the airport.


101 Ways to Use a Saw

December 14, 2008

There are many things you can do with a saw. You can cut. You can…um…you can…well, I guess that’s all you really do with a saw. Cut.


The other day I was walking up the stairs to the subway platform. On my way up, I heard what sounded like a person whining on pitches that somewhat resembled Christmas carols. My refined ear was cringing. I got to the top thinking I was going to find a crazy person attempting to sing with a cup in front begging for change. Instead I was greeted by a woman bowing with a flourish on….

a saw.

Yes, this woman was playing a saw. Now, if I had been in the West Virginian mountains perhaps I wouldn’t have found this so odd. But on the Upper East Side? Playing as if she had studied years to master the saw, she sat with a dazed smile on her face like a violin aficionado. At the end of each song, she would slowly place her hand on top of the blue Santa hat set upon her head and bow with the grace of an opera diva despite the fact that no one was watching.

I suppose that when you move to the city and you happen to have a saw, there’s not much you can do with it. There’s no need to cut any wood because there is no wood to cut. And you can’t really sell it to make a few bucks to pay the rent because no one else needs a saw. The only thing left?

Play it! That’ll make a few bucks!

Last year I shared with you about the interesting world of audition season in NYC the first 2 weeks of December. If you missed it, it is a must read. Truly, it will give you insight into a world you never dreamed anyone ever actually willingly subjected themselves to.

The opera singer season is upon us again, and I am back in NYC hittin’ the audition trail.  I’ve had 4 so far, and so far so good.  I am singing primarily for young artist programs an some mainstage for small houses.  At one smaller house, I sang for the young artist program and after finishing my first song he said, “Are you sure you are singing for young artist?” After a feeble attempt to not blumber over my words, he says, “Honestly.  You really think you should be singing for kids every day?”  So I replied, “Honestly, I want mainstage. I’m good enough for mainstage and that’s what I want. “And he said, “Yes you are.  Unfortunately there’s not really anything for mezzos this year with us.” Why am I not surprised.  Just once, I’d like to be in the right place at the right time, ya know? At least he liked me and maybe he’ll keep me in his head for next year.

The true force of audition season hit me today when I met up with a fellow singer for coffee. We decided to hit a Starbucks which happened to be near Nola (a major audition hub).  We walked in, and I kid you not, the ENTIRE place was opera singers.  If someone had broken out in “Libiamo” (The Drinking Song from Verdi’s La Traviata), everyone would’ve chimed in and we would’ve had a grand old time.  Well, since we’re all actually sick of that song, maybe the time wouldn’t have been so grand, but you get my point.  I ran into several people I know, and met at least another dozen who are in the same anonymous swarm of singers, subjecting themselves to such inhumane treatment.  We are gluttons for punishment.

So the rat race is in full swing, and I’m in the pack.  I’ve got 5 more to go.

I finally stepped in it

December 5, 2008

OK OK OK….so I promised I wouldn’t write anymore about dog poop, but I have to just one more time…and then I promise, pinky swear, cross my heart, hope to die not to do it again.

A few weeks ago, I took one of my final steps (no pun intended) into full initiation of being a true New Yorker.

I stepped in a pile of dog poop.

Yes, nearly an entire year of living in NYC, in Inwood, the land of dog poop, I managed to avoid it. But alas, my luck ran out.

It was a dark and rainy night. I was walking carefully to avoid large puddles of water. I noticed a faint smell of dog poop and thought, “Nasty…Welcome to Inwood”. Not 2 seconds later my heel almost came out from under me. I caught my balance and realized that for the first time, I had stepped in dog poop. I looked down to find that apparently I was not the only victim. Footprints of dog poop surrounded me. Someone let their dog poop right at the corner where people cross the street and didn’t pick it up. After rain and bad lighting, many had fallen victim.

I’m officially a New Yorker.

I am Brittney

December 5, 2008

Upon landing at ISLIP in Long Island, I was greeted by a Rolling Stone Magazine displaying a new, beautiful, trim Brittney Spears on the cover with the headline “Yes She Can!”.  I suppose Brittney is back.  Good for her.  But what was more troubling than the fact that my ears will once again be subjected to her terrible music, was that the photo was of her standing in some funky, sexy stance obviously brandishing her new stomach.  Flat, tan and air brushed, the reader is left with the idea that “Yes she can!” not because she’s such a great artist but because she worked out and lost the “baby” fat she showed off at that awards show last year which banished her from Celebrityville until she lost it.

So that gave me an idea.  Perhaps my opera career would sky rocket if my headshot were a picture of me standing sexily, showing of my flat belly (heck, a little air brushing can make it look fantastic!).  I’ve just found my ticket.